LAHORE: The counsel for the Defence Housing Authority on Thursday requested Lahore High Court’s Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan to expunge his recent remarks against the army in a case related to DHA’s alleged illegal occupation of land owned by the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB).

“The remarks of the court about the chief of army staff have hurt the emotions among rank and file of the institution,” DHA’s counsel Altafur Rehman Khan said, requesting the chief justice to expunge the adverse remarks from the court’s proceedings.

However, Chief Justice Khan turned down the request and observed that his remarks were not against the institution of the army but against the conduct of some individuals working in it.

“Wrong deeds of some ind­ividuals bring a bad name to the institutions they work for. Whenever a lawyer or judge commits any wrongdoing, the whole legal fraternity and the judiciary have to bear its brunt,” the chief justice explained.

He said the retired officers of the army working in the DHA should also understand this aspect. “The people of the country honour and love the soldiers fighting on the borders more than their own near and dear ones,” he added.

The chief justice observed that the land belonging to minorities of the country could not be usurped by acquiring it at a minimum price.

“This matter can create a situation for Pakistan that’s more serious than the FATF dilemma,” CJ Khan said while expressing his apprehensions.

He observed that the remarks about a few individuals could not affect the honour of an entire institution.

The chief justice had summoned DHA administrator Brig Waheed Gul Satti along with the record of the land in question.

However, DHA’s legal director retired Col Naamdar appeared before the court on Thursday.

The court adjourned hearing of the case till May 3 and directed the director to seek instructions from the DHA management. He ordered the authority not to disturb the possession of the petitioners unless it acquired the land as per the law.

Petitioners Zeeshan Mehboob, Raheel Tufail and Zulfiqar Hussain had got different chunks of land allotted on three-year lease from the ETPB for cultivation purposes in Mota Singhwala, Lidhar and Dera Chahal Mauzas near Bedian Road, Lahore.

Earlier, Chief Justice Khan also took notice of a social media post by Lahore Development Authority’s legal counsel Amir Saeed Rawn, who was present in the court, on the remarks of the court about the 50-kanal land of the LHC allegedly occupied by the DHA.

The lawyer shared a 2016 letter of the LHC registrar, which directed the then district coordination officer of Lahore to get the land measuring 50 kanals situated at mauza Sangatpura mutated in favour of the DHA and the land measuring 65 kanals in mauza Phularwan mutated in favour of the LHC.

Taking exception to the lawyer’s post, the chief justice observed that the LDA had become a party to the case.

He also expressed his reservations on the land transaction saying it was not a decision by the administration committee of the LHC.

On Wednesday, CJ Khan had lashed out at the DHA for its involvement in illegal occupation of lands and regretted that the army seemed to have become the biggest land grabber.

He regretted that the army had also “grabbed” a piece of land measuring 50 kanals owned by the high court.

The CJ stated that he would instruct the LHC registrar to write a letter to the chief of the army staff so that he could know what the army was doing.

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2021

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